‘Kitchen Confidential’ and the Early Days of Anthony Bourdain’s Legend

Elizabeth Nelson in The Ringer:

As late as 1999, Anthony Bourdain’s principal vocation remained his position as executive chef at the venerable but self-consciously middle-brow steak-frites joint Les Halles, on Park Avenue between 28th and 29th streets in Manhattan. Always a blessing and a curse, Bourdain’s restless mind continuously kicked the tires on other career avenues—Random House had published his Elmore Leonard–style culinary crime novel Bone in the Throat a few years previous—but by no means was he walking away from his calling in the kitchen. He was 43 years old, rode hard and put up wet, a recovering addict with a number of debts and a penchant for finding trouble in failing restaurants across the city. At Les Halles—at last—he had found sustained success and something resembling stability. This is what Anthony Bourdain would have had us believe.

But in the spring of 2000, his sublimated literary ambitions suddenly caught up with and then quickly surpassed his cooking. Brought forth by the boutique publishing house Ecco Press, Bourdain’s long-gestating, industry-disrupting, love-letter-cum-horror-show-confessional Kitchen Confidential became an immediate sensation.

More here.